Widgets. I don’t like them. They are big, bulky, make your site load slower, and distract readers from what’s important – content.
Buttons. (Also known as badges.) I don’t like them. They’re sort of like flags, they look familiar but you don’t know what clicking them is going to lead to.
If you were unaware, Source Blogger had to undergo it’s second site redesign in two months. First, there was the migration from Blogger and then there was the disappointing performance of the Ultimate Blogging Theme – which led to the present theme. (Still debating whether to share my nightmare experience regarding the previous theme or not.)
This latest site revision caused my designer and I to examine how we were going to present to readers the social networks and blogging communities I actively participate in.
“The Community Effect”
As bloggers, one of our primary goals is to attract and maintain a loyal following. The reality is that many readers prefer to receive our blog updates far from our blog page – whether it be Friend Feed, Facebook/Networked Blogs, Twitter, Google Friend Connect, etc. ( And some readers are a part of networks we haven’t even heard of!)
Of course we would prefer them to be more directly connected to our blogs via RSS or e-mail. But chalk it up as a small victory when they have connected to you via the community you both share – although for many, we may never see or hear from them again.
Because of this, many bloggers do not go beyond their newsletter, their RSS Feed, their E-mail Subscription (which is my favorite), and say, Twitter – all making the argument that you could have hundreds of friends and followers in these peripheral areas of the blogosphere… but will not equate to actual blog traffic!
Do they have a point here? We can only hope that someday the reader will return and want to become an active participant in discussions among our blog’s community. We’re counting on it.
Now you have decisions to make: Out of the thousands of social media sites, which ones will you offer readers and in what format will you present them?
Widget VS. Button?
Here is an example of the Networked Blogs Widget:
Now quick! Without looking, tell me what the Networked Blogs logo looks like! Quick!… You don’t know do you?
So, what if you saw this on a blog? Would you know that was the logo for?
It’s the Networked Blogs logo.
See, that’s the dilemma. You take away the big, bulky widget and replace it with a cool logo (see my upper, right sidebar) … and guess what… after amassing 248 followers on Networked Blogs, funny, I have not had one since the site was made over! (And the social media icons were even made to show scroll over text! – Try it!)
Was it the familiarity of the widget that was missed? Did you miss seeing all the faces of other bloggers contained in the widget? Did it give you a feeling of community? Or was it something else? And could that something else be the fact that it does not display the followers count?
Hmm… I wonder. What do you think? And how do you allow readers to connect to you outside of RSS and E-mail, without using your blog as evidence of every place you frequent online?
We know that one other alternative doesn’t cut it! Especially with traffic coming from the U.K., India, China, Japan, Australia, etc.